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Wasp named after Harry Potter character
The native New Zealand wasp has been named after villainous Harry Potter character Lucius Malfoy.
Scientist hopes to redeem insect’s bad reputation

A New Zealand wasp has been named after villainous Harry Potter character Lucius Malfoy, in a bid to raise its profile.

Tom Saunders, a doctoral student at the University of Auckland, named the wasp Lusuis malfoyi. It is a native parasitoid wasp that does not sting or live in colonies.

It does, however, have a particularly gruesome reproductive technique that involves injecting eggs into the bodies of caterpillars. The larvae feed inside the caterpillar’s body as the host slowly dies.

Mr Saunders hopes to champion insects of which most New Zealanders have no knowledge. It is thought there are around 3,000 endemic species in New Zealand, of which only a third are known to science.

He said: “I used the name Lusuis malfoyi because Malfoy is a character in the books with a bad reputation who is ultimately redeemed and I’m trying to redeem the reputation of our native wasps.”

Lack of data could mean New Zealand is losing endemic species without even knowing it, Mr Saunders warned.

Parasitoid wasps are used as environmental tools in the country, and introduced species control a range of horticultural pests. Mr Saunders decided to work on improving methods for wasp capture during his masters degree.

“The big problem is lack of data, we do not know what species we have, how many there might be or what their host species are, so they can’t be included in conservation planning,” he explained.

“Much of my work in capturing them for my research was at the edge of the Waitakere Ranges so they can be found even in people’s backyards but most people don’t know anything about them.”

Image © Tom Saunders/University of Auckland

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Campaign highlights ‘devastating impact’ of smoking around pets

News Story 1
 Leading vet charity PDSA has launched a campaign highlighting the ‘devastating impact’ that smoking can have on pets. The launch coincides with National No Smoking Day (14 March 2018) and aims to raise awareness of the risks of passive smoking and how to keep pets safe.

“Recent studies highlight that this is a really serious issue, and we want pet owners to know that they can make a real difference by simply choosing to smoke outdoors away from their pets,” said PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan. “We want pet owners to realise that, if they smoke, their pets smoke too.”  

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AWF named charity of the year

The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) has been chosen as charity of the year by the Veterinary Marketing Association (VMA). AWF is a vet-led charity, supported by the BVA, which aims to improve animal welfare though research funding, supporting veterinary education, providing pet care advice and encouraging debate on welfare issues.

VMA has pledged a range of support, including raising awareness and funds at their awards ceremony, which takes place on Friday 16 March, as well as offering marketing support through VMA marketing workshops.